This brings us to the subject of who created rap. Who was the first rapper? Who was the first rapper to change the way the people think about rap in America and then become one of the most popular artists of all time? Who was the first to give us the sound that would eventually lead to all other rappers sounding the same at the end of a track? Who is the first person to have the greatest amount of hits in one year?
Let’s start with Michael Jackson because that answer doesn’t have to come to you from a black person. It only has to come from a black man who is familiar with white people and white music.
“For me, it’s one of the defining moments of my life. I was 14 years old, and I heard about what he was going to do when he walked off the stage of his concert in Japan,” said Michael Martin, the lead singer of the R&B band The Jackson 5, adding that the song, “Thriller,” was the first single from the album that would win him a Grammy for best R&B vocal performance. “And I just remember having this moment of being like, ‘Whoa! This is incredible, man. This is great.’ And I’ve never forgot those words.”
That’s because Jackson’s music has been a driving force in the life of black people everywhere. His music is still loved, even after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police, an event that forced the nation to reckon with the fact that people have too much power over cops.
“The fact that people of color can still be part of the fabric of America and still be part of pop culture, so that black and brown people feel included, I think you’re very brave. I think you are incredibly admirable. And I think it’s very important that these experiences are incorporated into pop culture,” said Michael Oher, a professor of public policy at American University. “And it’s something that I think everybody in this country has to see.”
“I feel blessed that I could meet Michael Jackson,” said D’Angelo. “He was a pioneer in our culture. And I think he changed the game for black people in America.”
To Jackson’s credit, he took this moment in America he helped launch, one where black people were able to express themselves freely for the first time. We’re talking the music, not the violence, the politics, or the incarceration rate—all of which were
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